Workers on offshore oil and gas rigs are facing the threat of having a long-standing collective agreement torn up in front of their faces by employers.
The bosses’ federation, the Offshore Contractors Association (OCA), has announced its intention to end the Offshore Contractors’ Partnership Agreement on 30 June. This keystone agreement deals with core issues like pay, working conditions and health and safety.
Tearing it up will strip workers of basic rights, set the clock back four decades and effectively derecognise the unions (in this case, Unite, GMB and RMT).
This confirms a trend that has already seen firms like BP hire in outside contractors that are not subject to the agreement. Its threatened abolition sends a challenge to the unions to get off the back foot and mobilise their members into an active campaign of resistance.
As RMT regional organiser Jake Molloy is quoted as saying: “It strikes me that many of the industry forums we participate in are either pointless or completely disengaged with the reality of what is happening on the ground.”
If unions are to avoid the fate of being sidelined and condemned to irrelevance, they must demonstrate the power of organised labour to make things happen ‘on the ground’. (Offshore unions Unite, GMB and RMT warn against plans to derecognise them by Peter Lazenby, Morning Star, 3 February 2020)